Fauci disputes NIH-funded research at Wuhan Institute involved gain of function as Rand Paul calls for his firing

Fauci disputes NIH-funded research at Wuhan Institute involved gain of function as Rand Paul calls for his firing
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on July 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Photo by Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images
  • Rand Paul claimed Anthony Fauci lied to Congress about US-funded gain of function research in Wuhan.
  • Fauci told George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that he did not lie to Congress about the research.

During an interview Sunday with "Axios on HBO," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., called for President Joe Biden to fire his chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who he claims has lied to Congress about US-funded research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology involving gain of function experiments.

Paul also claimed during the interview that Lawrence Tabak, principal deputy director at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said in a letter to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., last Thursday that "viruses did gain in function" during experiments with bat coronaviruses.

NIH defines gain-of-function research as studies with the potential to enhance the pathogenicity or transmissibility of potential pandemic pathogens (PPPs). The research plan reviewed by NIH for the Wuhan experiments did not fit the definition of research involving PPPs because the bat coronaviruses had not been shown to infect humans, according to Tabak's letter.

The letter acknowledged that mice infected with one kind of bat coronavirus became sicker than those infected with a different variant. However, Tabak's letter made never mentioned "gain of function."

In response, Fauci told George Stephanopoulos during a Sunday edition of ABC's "This Week" that he "respectfully disagrees" with Paul and did not lie to Congress. Fauci also said it was "molecularly impossible" for the bat coronaviruses being studied in Wuhan to develop into SARS-CoV-2, which Tarak corroborated in his letter.


"And yet when people talk about gain of function, they make that implication which I think is unconscionable to do, to say, well, maybe that research led to SARS-CoV-2," Fauci told Stephanopoulos. "So, things are getting conflated, George, that should not be conflated."

The Washington Post reported last week that NIH Director Francis Collins said the Wuhan experiments did not involve gain of function research.

Paul previously made similar claims about gain of function research during a COVID pandemic hearing in July.

At the time, Fauci responded to Paul by saying: "Senator Paul, you do not know what you're talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially. You do not know what you're talking about,"